ALBANY — Donald Trump, aiming for a big win in New York’s upcoming primary, sought to fire up supporters to get them to the polls in a whirlwind speech delivered to about 10,000 Monday.
Trump defended “New York values,” blasted Republican leaders for running a “rigged, dirty” primary system, called rival Ted Cruz “a really bad guy” and said everything about Democrat Hillary Clinton’s life is a “big, fat, beautiful lie.”
Bernie Sanders? Trump said he and his supporters actually have something in common with the socialist-leaning senator from Vermont. They both agree the U.S. is being cheated on foreign trade, Trump said, but he contended he can “do something about it,” unlike Sanders.
In a nearly hourlong speech at the Times Union Center in downtown Albany, Trump hit on all his usual talking points: foreign trade, Obamacare, Common Core and his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border that he says will be paid for by the Mexican government. He took shots at Cruz, the Texas senator who is running second to Trump for the GOP nomination, and Democratic front-runner Clinton.
But primarily, Trump underscored the importance of New York in the GOP delegate chase by repeatedly urging supporters not only to vote, but also to get friends and family members to the polls next week. Earlier this week, his campaign sent email marked “URGENT” to New Yorkers, asking them to make 25 phone calls on his behalf or knock on 25 doors to win a state that might be crucial to his hopes for the nomination. Trump also recently added a number of rallies around the state to his campaign schedule.
“Get out and vote! You’ll be so happy!” Trump said in closing to the cheering throng. “I love you! I love you!”
Trump is the lone Republican with a chance of securing the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination before the party convention in July. With some Republicans working to block him and create a contested convention, Trump’s campaign has acknowledged that a huge victory in New York might be necessary for him to reach 1,237.
Rather than a statewide contest, New York’s primary is more like 27 “mini primaries,” where candidates must compete for delegates in each of the state’s congressional districts. Three delegates are awarded per district, with another 14 at-large delegates awarded proportionally.
Carl Paladino, a conservative Buffalo businessman who was the party’s 2010 gubernatorial candidate, predicted Trump would win every district with more than 50 percent of the vote — which would allow him to pick up every delegate.
“We’re going to take three votes in every district,” said Paladino, who acted as emcee for the rally. “We’ve been very selective about where we’re going and what we’re doing in every district. And we’ve been doing that for about four, five months.”
A few scattered protesters sought to disrupt Trump occasionally. Most were escorted out without incident, although one protester who was standing in an aisle booing got shoved in the face by a Trump supporter three times. Pulled off by his allies, the supporter kept advancing toward the protester, planting his hand in the protester’s face and shoving.
Trump opened by declaring: “We love Albany! We like New York. We really love our country.”
He segued right into Cruz’s remark from earlier in the campaign when the senator said Republicans shouldn’t back Trump because he has “New York values.” Trump told the crowd Cruz displayed “disdain” and “hatred” for New York.
“We have the greatest values. Nobody has values like us,” Trump said, invoking scenes from the 9/11 attacks and rescue and rebuild efforts.
He repeatedly called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” a mantra that the crowd picked up on. He complained that he’s received “millions” more votes than Cruz in the primaries so far, but the “media” only emphasizes delegate count (total votes don’t have a role in determining the nomination).
He then switched to Clinton, bashing her about using a private email account while serving as secretary of state.
“You talk about liars? I think Hillary might be worse than Ted,” Trump said to whoops from the crowd. “Everybody knows that she is guilty as hell. OK? Everybody knows.”
He said “everything” in Clinton’s life is a “big, fat, beautiful lie.”